Every Full Moon Day is a public holiday in Sri Lanka, known as Poya in the Sinhala language. The term poya is derived from the Pali word uposatha, the original meaning is "fast day". Full moon days are Uposatha days for all Theravada Buddhist monks. The fortnightly recitation and confession of the monastic rules of conduct take place on New Moon and Full Moon days. This Bhikkhu Pathimokkha is the most important regular ceremony in a Buddhist monastery. It is aimed at the purification of the order. The Pathimokkha is part of the Buddhist Holy Scriptures, it is a condensed version of the first of three parts of the Scriptures, which is called Vinaya-Pitaka and mentions the rules in more details and with background information concerning the circumstances under which they were intuduced. The Patthimokkha short-version consists of 227 rules for Theravada Buddhists monks. When a specific rule is recited, a monk who violated this specific rule, should confess his deed. To be silent means not to have breached it. This way the Pathimokkha ceremony has become a pure recitation ceremony without discussion in the course of time.
Uposatha days are also observed by lay followers throughout the world of Theravada Buddhism. In Sri Lanka, lay Buddhists visit their local monasteries, each family at a time of their own choice, they perform rites such as the watering of the Bo tree and sometimes like to talk to a monks about some personal affairs. Generally shops are closed on Poya days, in Sri Lanka the sale of alcohol and meat is forbidden on full moon days.
Vap Poya day, usually taking place in October, marked the end of the rainy season in India. The three months rainy season between Esala Poya and Vap Poya was a time when the Buddha and his followers remained indoors and stayed at a their monasteries, instead of wandering around. This retreat periods are called Vassanas. The Vap Full Moon Day is also called the Cheevara Masaya, meaning the “month of robes”, since the monks got new clothes at the end of the monsoon season, as a meritorious donation from lay people. These offerings during the month between Vap Poya and Ill Poya (November) are called “Katina chivara”. The word “Katina” means “unbreakable”, meaning the solidity of the merit gained by offering robes to monks.
all Sri Lanka blog articles
by region, by topic
and A-Z here...